28 May 2006

[Federal Register: May 23, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 99)]
[Page 29642-29643]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Request for Information: Voluntary Storage of Personal Data in 
Preparation for Emergencies

AGENCY: Department of Health and Human Services.

ACTION: Request for information.


SUMMARY: To improve emergency preparedness, response and recovery 
efforts, HHS invites public comment on the availability or feasibility 
of private sector services through which individuals could voluntarily 
submit their personal information for storage so that they, their 
family members, or other designated individuals could access the 
information in an emergency. HHS invites all comments, suggestions, 
recommendations, and creative ideas on the establishment of voluntary 
nationwide services that can best offer this capability. This Request 
for Information (RFI) is intended to provide a synthesis of ideas for 
consideration, and it is not intended to be part of any procurement 

DATES: Responses should be submitted to the Department of Health and 
Human Services on or before 5 p.m., EDT, July 24, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Electronic responses are preferred and should be addressed 
to Disaster_Storage_RFI@hhs.gov. Written responses will also be 
accepted. Please send to: Department of Health and Human Services, Room 
434E, 200 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20201, Attention: 
IMDA RFI Response.
    A copy of this RFI is also available on the World Wide Web at 
http://www.hhs.gov/emergency/rfi/. Please follow the instructions for 

submitting responses.
    Public Access: This RFI and all responses will be made available to 
the public in the HHS Public Reading Room, 200 Independence Avenue, 
SW., Washington, DC. Please call 202-690-7453 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. 
EDT to arrange access to the Public Reading Room. The RFI and all 
responses will also be made available on the World Wide Web at http://www.hhs.gov/emergency/rfi/.
 Any information you submit, including 

addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and personally identifiable 
information, will be made public. Do not send proprietary, commercial, 
financial, business confidential, trade secret, or personal information 
that should not be made public.

Transformation Action Team for Preparedness, 202-690-7100.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were two of the 
most devastating hurricanes ever recorded, affecting approximately 
90,000 square miles and 1.5 million people. The hurricane and flooding 
caused the evacuation of the city of New Orleans, marking the first 
time a major American city has been completely evacuated. More than 
700,000 households have received rental assistance from the Federal 
Emergency Management Agency, and more than 1.4 million families (over 4 
million people) received emergency financial assistance from the 
American Red Cross. The hurricane did not discriminate among 
businesses, governments, and not-for-profit institutions: financial 
institutions, healthcare facilities, local courthouses, and academic 
institutions alike suffered devastating destruction. In many cases, 
significant personal and institutional records were lost.
    In response to the loss and destruction of important documents 
experienced by the survivors of these hurricanes, the White House 
report, The Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina: Lessons Learned, 
recommended that the Federal government work with the private sector to 
encourage the development of a capacity to voluntarily store and 
retrieve personal information that would be useful in the event of a 
natural or manmade disaster, such as an earthquake, flood, pandemic 
influenza, or terrorist event. Specifically, the report recommended 
that the Federal government should:

encourage the private sector development of a capability for 
individuals to voluntarily submit their personal identifying 
information for virtual storage that citizens and their families 
could access during emergencies. The capability is best thought of 
as a 21st century version of a bank vault, with virtual safe deposit 
boxes for information. Disaster victims could access the virtually 
stored data to apply for Federal assistance, medical treatment, or 
insurance benefits. Because of the sensitivity of the personal data 
stored, strict privacy limitations and protections would be 

    Appendix A, Recommendation 66, at page 107. The White House report, 
The Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina: Lessons Learned, is 
available on the

[[Page 29643]]

Web at http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/hurricane/.

    This Request for Information is a first step in understanding the 
availability or feasibility of such services and how the Federal 
government might encourage citizens to voluntarily maintain critical 
information so that it can be accessed easily during an emergency. This 
Request for Information is not intended as a prelude to any procurement 
by the Federal government. Rather, it is intended to elicit suggestions 
from members of the public about capabilities that should be considered 
for maintaining personal information and to provide ideas for 
consideration as to how to encourage individuals and the private sector 
to take action in preparation for emergencies.
    In particular, HHS seeks to understand the roles and 
responsibilities of individuals who provide and maintain this 
information, including the relationship between custodians and 
individuals who use their services. Respondents should differentiate 
between capabilities that already exist and those which are planned or 
desirable in the future.
    A separate Request for Information will be published in the Federal 
Register seeking input about the availability or feasibility of 
electronic benefits services for disaster victims that would facilitate 
the provision of Federal, state, local, and non-governmental human 
assistance programs in an efficient manner.
    HHS encourages all potentially interested parties--individuals, 
consumer groups, associations, governments, non-governmental 
organizations, and commercial entities--to respond. To facilitate 
review of the responses, please reference the question number in your 

Questions for Response

1. Approach, Finance, Sustainability, and Roles

    a. What models and options are currently available that provide or 
support the capability to provide ready access to critical documents 
during or following an emergency?
    b. What models and options should be available, that are currently 
not available, to provide this service? Describe how this approach or 
model would work and illustrate with examples where useful.
    c. How will such a service be made accessible to those it is 
intended to help?
    d. How would accessibility for persons with special needs (e.g. 
persons with disabilities, persons who are not proficient in English) 
be ensured?
    e. What ownership, management, governance, financing, and 
sustainability issues arise as a result of the recommended approach, 
and how should these issues be resolved?
    f. How should the effort(s) be funded? Who should pay for the 
service and infrastructure?

2. Function, Capabilities, and Performance

    a. What types of information do you view as relevant, necessary, or 
useful to access in an emergency (e.g., birth certificates, wills, 
medical information)? Of these types of information, which would be 
easy to deposit with the type of service contemplated in this Request 
for Information (RFI), which would be difficult, and why?
    b. What is the best approach for storage and retrieval of this 
    c. What limits should there be on the availability of information 
via the service contemplated by this RFI, and how should those limits 
be implemented?
    d. What are the necessary features, capabilities, and attributes of 
the service contemplated by this RFI?
    e. How should this service support disaster survivors in providing 
documentation necessary to obtain Federal, local, and non-governmental 
disaster relief benefits?
    f. What are the performance requirements of the service or the 
system that supports it?
    g. What disclosures should be required and under what circumstances 
or conditions would such disclosures be made?

3. Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, and Enforcement

    a. Whom do you view as the interested parties? How should 
interested parties interact? What are their roles and responsibilities?
    b. What is an inappropriate disclosure? Who has liability for 
inappropriate or unlawful disclosures, or harms that come as a result 
of storage of personal data?
    c. What enforcement mechanisms are appropriate to protect 
information, and who should be responsible for enforcement?
    d. What rights should individuals who deposit their information 
have with respect to the custodian?
    e. What rights should be assigned to custodians providing the 
    f. What data disclosure laws and policies should apply? Who will 
have access to the information, and under what circumstances?
    g. What other types of rules should apply to the service?
    h. What legal implications are there, if any, of storing electronic 
copies of important documents and making them available via such a 
service to those permitted to receive the information? If there are 
impediments, how should they be overcome? (For example, how will the 
contents of documents be authenticated?)
    i. If residents of one State are permitted to store their documents 
in another State, how would protections travel across States?

4. Security and Standards

    a. What administrative, technical, and physical security approaches 
should be considered?
    b. What security standards mechanisms, if any, should be adopted by 
or imposed on the custodians?
    c. How will access and authentication controls be implemented?
    d. What technical, data, format, or performance standards should be 
    e. How will the identity of the individual requesting information 
be verified?

5. Potential Federal Roles

    a. What role, if any, should the Federal government play in 
encouraging the development of services whereby individuals can 
voluntarily deposit their personal identifying information for access 
during or following an emergency?
    b. What role, if any, should the Federal government play in 
encouraging citizens to voluntarily collect and store their personal 
information for access during or following an emergency?
    Please feel free to add any other comments, suggestions, or 
creative ideas to your response.

    Issued on May 17, 2006.
Charles Havekost,
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Information Technology and Chief 
Information Officer.
[FR Doc. E6-7833 Filed 5-22-06; 8:45 am]